EXPERT VIEW BY MUYIWA AKINTUNDE.
Eight matches are scheduled this week to be played in the Round of 16 of the ongoing FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil. But of the eight, only one fixture is determined as at Sunday afternoon.
That is the Tuesday evening clash of Angola and Korea Republic. The other seven, including the late night clash that will involve Nigeria and an unknown opponent, will be known late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
So far, only eight of the 16 first knockout stage teams are known. But Sports Village Square has taken an incisive look at all scenarios and can predict the team that the Golden Eaglets will face on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
Chile may be the Round of 16 opponents of Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets. By the pairing, Nigeria, which topped Group B after two wins and a defeat, will meet the third placed team of either Group A, C or D. And these are New Zealand (Group A), Chile (Group C) and Netherlands (Group D).
All those teams ended the group stage with three points each, but New Zealand had inferior goal difference, while Chile and Netherlands are tied on other attributes – five goals converted, six goals conceded and, of course, goal difference.
Article 13 (2) of the Regulations for FIFA U17 World Cup Brazil 2019 describes how the best four teams among the third placed sides will be decided in the qualification for the tournament’s Round of 16:
“The four best teams among those ranked third will be determined as follows: a) greatest number of points obtained in all group matches; b) goal difference resulting from all group matches; c) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches; d) highest team conduct score relating to the number of yellow and red cards obtained in all group matches and calculated as per step 2 (g) above; e) drawing of lots by FIFA.”
Article 13, which relates to “Equal points and qualification for knockout stage”, spells out in Section 1: “If two or more teams in the same group are equal on points after the completion of the group stage, the following criteria, in the order below, shall be applied to determine the ranking:
“Step 1: a) greatest number of points obtained in all group matches; b) superior goal difference in all group matches; c) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.
“Step 2: If two or more teams in the same group are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings will be determined as follows: d) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned; e) superior goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.”
Of particular reference to the situation of Chile and Netherlands is Step 2 (g) which stipulates: “If two or more teams in the same group are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings will be determined as follows: ‘Highest team conduct score relating to the number of yellow and red cards obtained:
‘– yellow card: minus 1 point
‘– indirect red card (as a result of two yellow cards): minus 3 points
‘– direct red card: minus 4 points
‘– yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points.”
At the end of the group stage, Chile had better disciplinary conduct than Netherlands, which stands the South Americans in good stead ahead of the Dutch and therefore become Nigeria’s next opponents.
Chile, in Group C with France, Haiti and Korea Republic, had four yellow cards and committed 42 fouls as against five yellow cards for Netherlands and same number of fouls committed (42) while featuring in Group D that also had Japan, Senegal and the United States.
The Golden Eaglets may well begin to prepare for Chile ahead of the official announcement of their Round of 16 opposition.